Win or Lose

This is Part II of The Right Will Fight Dirty.

Major league baseball teams use the minor league teams as a place to “farm” new baseball players. These minor league teams plant seeds by hiring hundreds of young “wannabe” players, providing them with a place to make a living while they train and gain experience, and eventually some of the best players rise up to “the majors.” Hence the term “farm teams.”

In The Next Generation, Atrios linked to Right On, a piece by Matthew Yglesias, which links to a piece by Laura Rozen describing how the right-wing American Enterprise Institute enthusiastically recruits young interns. They are discussing how the Right has a “farm team” system in place to provide internships, training, materials, etc. to a next generation of right-wingnuts to be political candidates at all levels, Congressional staffers, pundits, speakers, activists, etc. The Right has farm teams to recruit young people who are interested in politics, train them, give them a place to grow and learn. Moderates and Progressives do not.

In Political Entrepreneurs vs. Political Managers John Emerson talks about the differences between businesspeople and academics as being behind some of this problem, and moderate/liberal philanthropic foundations keeping their grantees on short leashes, and writes, “Eric Alterman noticed early in his career that his conservative friends all had cushy jobs, and he didn’t.” Finally, Jesse at Pandagon writes from a perspective of having interned (for free) at some liberal outfits.

This “farm team” system is just one part of the massive “infrastructure” that the Right has in place. This infrastructure consists of hundreds of organizations, all designed from scratch to change public opinion and the resulting political environment. This infrastructure was developed by a core group of funders who have, in effect, taken over the Republican Party and the “conservative movement” for their own ends. This money has built a network — an infrastructure — of over 500 organizations, centrally funded and coordinated and designed to market to the public. Because it is infrastructure for their movement, these organizations and the people in them are available to act on any issue at any time. What they sell is the Republican Party — not the honorable GOP of the past, but the new monolithic, cultish, far-right, secretive, post-Bircher, Nixonian, elitist, warlike, corporate Party, hawking a strange mixture of anarchic libertarian fantasy economics, money-worshiping, and desiring a one-party corporate/theological governance ruled by a behind-the-scenes aristocracy of inherited wealth. This sales job goes on 24 hours a day, every day, through every channel by which information reaches people.

A collection of links to articles, reports and resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates is available here. It is so important to our future that we understand just who is behind this right-wing movement and how they have been able to accomplish what they have, so I encourage you to visit this site and read the articles and studies it links to.

You’ve probably heard of the value of “early money” in elections. The influential “Emily’s List” is named after this concept. “EMILY” stands for “early money is like yeast.” The idea is that money that comes to a campaign very early is the most important because the earlier a candidate is able to campaign and start advertising, contacting the press and community groups, explaining positions, establishing an identity, etc., the more likely the campaign will be successful.

What the Right has is even better than that. Their network of organizations is like an early money tree — pumping out the benefits of early money years and years before any election, during elections, and the day after an election, getting started on the next one. The Right’s machine is not oriented around the election cycle, it is constant, yet this is why they win elections. Their organizations provide a drumbeat of propaganda all year, every year, working with the latest PR and marketing techniques, utilizing the latest research into the psychology of persuasion, exploiting the latest trends, etc. Because its marketing is constant, their politicians have it easy — they just show up and echo the ideology that this machine has been pumping out and ride along on the rest of the resulting public opinion. Their politicians are almost interchangable, their work having been already done for them by the organizations, they have only to show up and say the right things and they have an automatic base of support.

Moderate and Progressive politicians, on the other hand, have to develop their positions each election cycle largely on their own, and communicate their ideas themselves. Everyone blames the Democratic Party for lack of vision, lack of marketing, etc. when the problem really is that there is not a comparable network of moderate and progressive ADVOCACY MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS organizations that are OUTSIDE of the party apparatus, supporting it, feeding it ideas, foot soldiers and voters.

Organizations on the Right, like the Heritage Foundation provide talking points, training, media skills, and most important, farm teams — EMPLOYMENT for thousands of “foot soldiers” for the Right! Almost everyone on the Right is paid, and paid well (which serves to buy their loyalty to the core group of funders, their ideology and their goals.) They follow a long-term approach, which is why recruiting lots of young people and finding them paid positions as foot soldiers is an important part of their operation. Eventually these people will become activists, candidates, etc. And by having an employed stable of professional pundits, speakers, activists, etc., they are able to bring their “wurlitzer” to bear on any issue at any time, as necessary.

So the question here is why doesn’t “our side” have a similar infrastructure in place? I’ve spent a lot of time studying this problem and have developed some theories. And I have some ideas about how to begin to counter what the Right is doing.

Yglesias hits the nail on the head when he writes, “It’s the attitude of an arrogant, bloated, dominant movement that would have been appropriate in 1967 or 1977 but was clearly outdated by 1997 and will be simply pathetic by 2007.” This jibes with my own theory about why things are the way they are, that is similar to evolution: adapt to changing environments or die.

Here’s what I mean. Look back at the origins of this right-wing network. (See also here.) The “liberal establishment” used to be the only game in town. Growing up from the roots of modern philanthropy at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the system of philanthropic foundations and non-profits that was in place by the 1960s consisted of scholarly issue-oriented think tanks, and program-oriented public-service organizations that operated from a base of public agreement over common goals. In other words, in the 60’s there was universal agreement that it was a good thing to help the poor, protect the environment, provide universal education, etc.

And one of the things this system depended on was that not only the public was in agreement about their mission, but that the resulting political environment was supportive of it as well. Because the public environment already shared and was already supportive of its values and ideals, the “liberal establishment” was not designed to have organizations that work to change the underlying public environment and the resulting political environment. In fact, this was AND IS strongly considered to be against the rules!

Well, the leaders and funders of the far Right didn’t agree with this, and started building institutions of their own, designed from the start to fight against this “liberal establishment” and change that public consensus. The key is that their organizations grew from an effort to fight against liberal organizations and change public thinking. So they designed advocacy organizations with a marketing and communications focus. And over time they became more and more effective at accomplishing their mission, changing the way more and more people think, and discrediting who they saw as their opponents and enemies.

So while the organizations of moderates and liberals kept plodding along as if nothing had changed, the reality is that now there is no longer a public consensus that it is good to help the poor, protect the environment, provide universal education, etc. And, most important, the result of the Right’s efforts is that the political environment is now hostile to the goals of the major philanthropic foundations and the non-profit organizations they support. Like the proverbial frog in water that is heating to boiling, the UNDERLYING environment has changed without the “liberal establishment’s” organizations and their methods changing in response to the new environment. The Right’s entire system was designed from the beginning to change the public and political environment and undermine the effectiveness of the system. “Our side’s” organizations pre-existed this so they are not designed to respond, and have not yet adapted.

Here’s my usual example of what this means. Suppose you are a philanthropist supporting programs to protect a redwood grove. What you might do is spend money on a biologist, and on programs to have the public learn about the grove, and on lawyers for the occasional lawsuit, etc. And that always used to be an effective way to use your money. But in today’s evolved political environment an elected official can say that to fight forest fires we need to cut down the trees, or a judge can say that the “public good” is the market system so trees should be used for corporate profit. And, you might even face public protests and ridicule for your efforts to protect the environment (often led by the local far-right radio station…) So just like that the redwood grove is gone, and your entire philanthropic investment wasted.

The changed public environment means that traditional methods of philanthropy are a waste of money. In TODAY’S environment the battle must be to change underlying public attitudes, and with them the resulting political environment. The Right has worked to change this underlying public and political environment, and the moderate and progressive establishment still consists largely of organizations that are not designed at their core to fight to change underlying public attitudes and the resulting political environment. They are designed to implement programs that depend on an environment in which the public-at-large supports their goals.

The organizations of the Right are designed from scratch to work against the ideals and values that we all (reading this) cherish. Moderates and Progressives urgently need to build a number of powerful advocacy organizations designed from scratch to affect the underlying public and political environment. They need to explain to the public the value and benefit to them of ideals of nurturing, supporting each other, caring for the environment, even democracy. They need to build a “farm team” system that trains large numbers of young people to become activists, political candidates, writers, educators, commentators, filmmakers, etc., all working to restore support for progressive values and ideals.

The failure on the part of mainstream moderate and progressive philanthropy — the larger foundations — to recognize the seriousness of the threat from the Right AND to respond by developing a long-term plan and build a comparable infrastructure of hundreds of advocacy marketing/communicating organizations, recruit thousands of young foot-soldiers, etc. — has had disastrous consequences. It has led to the current emergency of the Bush administration. The photos of torture in Iraqi prisons tell us that it does not overstate matters to say that America has been transformed into a hostile, aggressive, warlike, brutal nation that few of us recognize. Democracy itself is being undermined.

This is beginning to change. Moderates and Progressives are beginning to understand the need to develop new organizations designed to respond to those of the Right. And many are beginning to understand the need to change the way their philanthropy is organized. For example, see the new GiftHub. And, last week, Alternet had a good article on this subject, Building the Countermovement

by Laurie Spivak.

The new organization Center for American Progress is an example of what we need to build. David Brock’s new organization Media Matters is another such organization, designed to counter the Right’s media, and it is already having an impact. Commonweal Institute has been building an organization to work on language and communication of ideas. Those of us in the blogging universe see the effects of these organizations. So it is easier to understand that many more such organizations would begin to seriously counteract the effect of the Right’s machine, and start taking the country back.

But these are only three, where the Right has over 500 such organizations, built over the last 30 years! We need to work to move the thinking of “our” leaders and “our” philanthropists toward understanding the need to build a permanent long-term progressive infrastructure. This is where my research has been focused. I’ve been on this like a drumbeat for a couple of years now, and I see more and more people coming to see this need as well.

We need to start building our own “machine” to take back the country — and save the world. Literally. If Kerry manages to win, all the better, but what if this means that this wonderful energy we see around us leading to a revival of progressive spirit, campaign contributions and volunteers then goes back into hibernation as it did after Clinton’s election? The Right only grew stronger during the Clinton years. And if Kerry loses, we MUST change our strategy and start working to bring the public back to understanding the benefits of sharing, community, democracy and caring for the environment. We MUST begin long-term efforts to return to the majority. WIN OR LOSE it is time to start building a moderate/progressive advocacy marketing infrastructure to fight back against the powerful organizations of the Right.

A rabid lame duck?

I doubt that Josh Micah Marshall’s post or this article by Dana Milbank and Jim Vandehei will tell anyone here much of anything that they don’t already know, but it might be evidence that this year the media won’t be quite as willing to carry water for Bush as it was in 2000. Milbank has always been more willing than most to tell it like it is, and success-worshippers who support Bush for that reason alone might be figuring out that the guy is turning into a loser.

As Marshall points out, Bush has virtually nothing positive to run on, and has to run entirely by stressing’s Kerry’s negatives. But negative campaigning has worked in the past, so we can hardly be complacent.

In a negative campaign, the Nader factor becomes more important, since the Bush people can sit back and let the Nader campaigners do a lot of their work for them. Bush’s core constituency of hard-core rightwingers seems to be at least 30% of the electorate, so Kerry needs almost three-quarters of the remainder.

If Nader gets a significant chunk of the vote, he could make it possible for Bush to win with a plurality even if most independents and non-insane moderate Republicans desert him. (And as I keep saying, centrists and independents aren’t necessarily all that smart — some of them are just random airheads).

So Bush could be elected by a plurality without the vote of anyone whatever except fanatics and airheads. The lame duck we’d end up with would be a rabid one.

Chalabi story spins out of control

I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on in Iraq right now. Seeing the Forest isn’t normally an up to the minute newsblog, but this is getting so weird that I can’t help myself.

Nobody really knows who ordered the raids on Chalabi. No one really knows who chose Chalabi’s cousin Alawi to be head of state, either. Don’t ask me.

UPDATE: It seems now that Alawi was the American candidate, and that the Iraqis and the UN were presented with a fait accompli. The relationship between the raids on Chalabi and the Alawi nomination still remains unclear: Washington Post.

Chalabi is apparently still in the driver’s seat in Iraq; one of his cousins is in line to be come head of state

Chalabi seemingly in control

Chalabi’s office raided a second time by someone or other

Among the charges against Chalabi is implication in blatant corruption

Raid apparently was by private contractors hired by the State Department

Cheney and Chalabi were very tight buddies, but Chalabi was smarter

Chalabi’s dupe Michael Ledeen of the National Review spins furiously in Chalabi’s defense

An unbelievable performance by David Ignatius: He praises Bush for trying feebly to clean up the mess he made

Glorious Leader Bush — ON HIS WATCH!

The President: Paying the Price:

[After 9/11] “At first, Bush did a masterful job of pulling the country together. Democrats as well as Republicans joined him at the ramparts. “We will speak with one voice,” Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle declared on 9/11. Bush’s decision to go to war in Afghanistan won support across the political spectrum because it seemed an entirely appropriate response to an attack on our country by terrorists harbored by that nation’s government.”

“Bush did a masterful job of pulling the country together?” BULLSHIT! Yes, the Democrats acted patriotically, pulling together behind the President. This piece, oddly crediting Bush, says right in it that it was DASCHLE, not Bush, declaring that we will speak with one voice. But do you remember Bush acting to bring the country together and hold it together? Do you remember Bush calling for setting aside political differences? Tell me what Bush did to bring us together. What I remember is The Party immediately trying to pass yet another tax cut because they had a political advantage.

Why does Bush get the credit for being a leader because the Democrats acted patriotically? If Gore were President do you think he would have failed to try to calm the country, instead of stoking the fear ever since, as Bush has? Do you think he would have failed to ask all of the diverse groups that make up America to join together? Do you think he would have politicized 9/11 and divided the country in HALF, as Bush has? And do you think FOR A MINUTE that the Right would have partriotically united behind Gore?

So Bush gets credit as a leader because the Democrats did the right thing. 9/11 happened ON HIS WATCH. Maybe he should be getting some credit for THAT.

Digby! Digby! Digby!

REAL bloggers post on Memorial Day weekend. In All The News The GOP Sees Fit To Print , Digby writes,

“After twelve years of blown story after blown story, it is time for the press (and not just The NY Times) to either declare that they are extensions of the Republican Party or expose their sources when they’ve shown themselves to be purposefully passing incorrect information (which Okrent endorses as proper journalistic ethics.)

Judith Miller undoubtedly believes she is being unfairly scapegoated, but she is not. Blair and Bragg were fired for offenses that didn’t lead to any real consequences other than a lot of journalistic navel gazing. Yet Miller, more than anyone, was a willing tool for certain political friends and sources and used her prestige and position on the paper of record to further their agenda to take this country into a war. That is inexcusable. However, The New York Times has decided to excuse her and others like Patrick Tyler and Jill Abrahamson and is allowing them to keep their jobs. “

But you gotta go there to read the whole thing.

Everything you need to know about Judith Miller, including nasty gossip

Judith Miller of the New York Times played an enormous role in promoting Ahmed Chalabi’s lies. She was at one time listed as an expert by Middle East Forum, a think tank run by Daniel Pipes and William Kristol, and has coauthored a book with Laurie Mylroie, an anti-Saddam obsessive no longer taken seriously by much of anybody. She has been represented by the literary agent Eleana Banador, whose clients are almost without exception neocons. She really should never have been allowed to work for the Times.

She’s been under fire for inaccurate, dishonest, and biased reporting for some time, and recently the New York Times has very timidly started to acknowlege that maybe her reporting wasn’t really all that hot.

She is married to Jason Epstein, one of the founders of the New York Review of Books (though no longer active there), and judging by her bio pic she’s a reasonably hot second wife. Epstein’s first wife remains an editor at TNYRB, which recently published a devastating article about Miller’s shoddy work for the Times.

One of the oddest things about Miller is that when she first came to Washington she was working for The Progressive, the weeniest of weeny liberal magazines. She moved to the Times in 1977.

As much as any single American outside the government, Miller deserves the blame for our disastrous Iraq incursion. It will be interesting to see whether there will be any real consequences.

Cache from the time when Miller was actually listed as an expert by Richard Pipes’ Middle East Forum advocacy group(this is no longer on the web)

Did she fuck her way to the top? Nobody likes Judith!

Steve Gilliard: it’s unusual for a reporter to be as thoroughly disliked as Miller is.

Perhaps her primary loyalty was not to journalism: one proposed alternative

Miller’s father ran a Mafia hangout (see more below)

More on the Riviera / Marine Room Mafia hangout

Part I of a series on Miller; Part II; Part III; Part IV.


Most Recent NYT Mea Culpa

Previous NYT Mea Culpa

Official Judith Miller Bio

LA Times on Miller

Massing’s New York Review of Books Article exposing Miller

Miller’s Husband’s Ex-wife is an Editor of the New York Review of Books

Editor and Publisher on Miller

Columbia Journalism Review on Miller

Schafer of Slate on Miller

Miller and the Middle East Forum

Who is The Middle East Forum?

Miller published in the Middle East Forum

Benador Associates, Laurie Mylroie, and Judith Miller

Miller even offended her colleagues at the Times

The Right Will Fight Dirty

I’ve been trying for three weeks to write about what happens after the election, and I keep getting hung up on the things the Right will do to stay in power. Beyond just the loss of power, any honest Justice Department or Congressional examination of their activities since January 2001 is likely to land many of them in prison for a very long time. So maybe I need to get that subject out of the way before I can write about AFTER the election.

We’ve all heard each other’s paranoid talk that there will be an “October Surprise,” or that the voting machines will refuse to count Democratic votes, or that the Republicans might just cancel the election. Unfortunately there is reason to fear. In 1968, fearing an end of the Vietnam War would mean a Humphrey victory, the Republicans sabotaged the pending peace agreement, and by 1972 they had turned the IRS, FBI and CIA into little more than arms of The Party, with the government acting as a pay-to-play contractor to large corporate contributors. Fortunately there was still an independent press and a Congress willing to investigate such matters when they became visible, and Nixon had to resign.

In 1980 there is every reason to believe the Republicans made a campaign deal with the terrorist government of Iran to keep the American hostages — and keep Carter looking bad — in exchange for post-election arms shipments. A few years later, after the Iran/Contra arms scandal investigation began, Lawrence Walsh wrote about the nature of The Party apparatus that had infiltrated the government and obstructed his efforts to find out for us what had happened. The following is from The Impeachment Conspiracy by Robert Parry:

“The North case reached the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1990 and the Poindexter case followed in 1991. Iran-contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, a Republican himself, encountered what he termed “a powerful band of Republican appointees [who] waited like the strategic reserves of an embattled army.”

Walsh recognized that many of the appeals judges held a “continuing political allegiance” to the conservative Federalist Society, an organization dedicated to purging liberalism from the federal courts.

“It reminded me of the communist front groups of the 1940s and 1950s, whose members were committed to the communist cause and subject to communist direction but were not card-carrying members of the Communist Party,” Walsh wrote. [For details, see Walsh’s Firewall.]

A leader of this partisan faction was Judge Laurence H. Silberman, a bombastic character known for his decidedly injudicious temperament. Silberman had served as a foreign policy advisor to Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign and had joined in a controversial contact with an emissary from Iran behind President Carter’s back. [See Robert Parry’s Trick or Treason.]”

Then came the election of Clinton! How much do I have to write about The Party’s activities to bring down the Clinton administration and cause every attempt at governing to fail, never mind the good of the country? With The Party’s Federalist Society judges in place every special prosecutor appointed to investigate Republican wrongdoing was a right-wing Party operative, and those appointed to investigate Democrats was … a right-wing Party operative. Every motion before the Courts went against Clinton and the Democrats. Just one example of Party infiltration of the mechanisms of government was Gary Aldrich. That a far-right sleazebag operative like Gary Aldrich was in the FBI at all, not to mention assigned to the Clinton White House, speaks volumes about the nature of The Party’s takeover of the apparatus of government for its own ends – as well as to the Clinton Administration’s understanding of what it was up against.

And, finally, the 2000 election. The Supreme Court demonstrated the extent and power of Party operatives, positioned within the mechanisms of our government, whose loyalty is to an ideology and a Party rather than the country.

These years of this Bush’s hands on the controls mean that our government is now infested with ideological operatives, waiting for their opportunity to prove that their loyalty lies with The Party, not American democracy.

So yes, it’s hard to write about what to do if Kerry wins. But I’m working on it. Win or lose, we have to come to understand how the Right managed to become so powerful, and what we must do to counter this before we lose what is left of the America we knew.

I’m irritable for a reason

OK, Ashcroft’s smear (“Al Qaeda wants Kerry to win”) made it to CNN (look for “Gohel”), and now we’re protesting.

That’s all well and good, but basically the Republican story is out there now, and we’re just responding. Where’s the Democratic story? Everybody should know that Bush flubbed the War on Terror, because that’s what he did. We should have had the word out there already, but we don’t. As long as the bad guys have the initiative, they win.

Supposedly Kerry is biding his time. That’s OK for now, but unless Kerry gets his message out there loud and clear well before the election, during the last six weeks or so he’ll be batting down one smear after another, and he’ll lose. He needs to be on the attack and keep one step ahead of the Republicans; he can’t afford to sit back and respond.

I was just involved in a disagreement with some very nice, genteel liberals who were worried that the Democrats would stoop to making nasty remarks about the Bush twins. I had to confess that this particular problem was not anywhere on my list of things to worry about, and that I might actually end up sometime making a few snarky remarks about the little drunken sluts myself.

What is on my list of things to worry about? I mostly worry about seeing a lame, ever-so-professionally-run Kerry campaign getting blindsided during the last month. I also worry about Kerry ending up being a one-term president because Bush’s mess proves to be impossible to clean up. And finally I worry about Kerry continuing Bush’s Iraq policy because he’s worried about being called a dove.

Liberals and Democrats spend too much time reading Orwell and worrying about turning into Stalinists. What they should be worrying about is disappearing entirely the way the Whigs did. Liberals remind me of the cartoon of the 98-lb. weakling promising never to use his martial arts powers for evil purposes.

The Democrats don’t have any goddamn superpowers to misuse. Let’s quit worrying about it.

Political Entrepreneurs vs. Political Managers

Matt Yglesias has posted a piece contrasting the right wing’s strong infrastructure for encouraging young conservatives to the weak support that the Democratic Party gives its own next generation. This gives me a rare opportunity to agree enthusiastically with Matt, and leads into a piece which I’ve been planning to write for some time.

Conservatives and liberals come from very different backgrounds. Conservatives tend to come more from the business world, whereas most liberals have a history in academia, public administration, non-profits, unions, and other large bureaucratic organizations. While there are strengths that come from this institutional background, there are weaknesses too, and at the moment I find the weaknesses the most striking.

Businessmen are entrepreneurs, gamblers, opportunists, and sometimes lowlifes, and they are always looking for an edge. Many are semi-educated, uncredentialed, and self-taught, and they’re always on the outlook for talent. They don’t usually care about someone’s credentials if they’re able to do the job.

By contrast, academics and administrators are always worried that someone might be hired or promoted who is Not Fully Qualified. In many cases, the administrators see their job as maintaining normality, following standard operating procedures, and keeping things on an even keel. They strongly favor team players who don’t rock the boat, and are often quite indulgent of staff who are part of the family, even if they’re not pulling their full share of the load. In many organizations positive performance standards are unclear, so avoiding problems becomes the goal, and the fail-safe position is to hire a credentialed, experienced worker with no history of innovation.

This sounds like the generic libertarian stump speech, but I think that this is an issue on which liberals should listen to libertarians. I don’t push my argument nearly as far as they do — they think that it destroys the whole liberal program down to the roots — but I believe that they do have a major point.

There was something out awhile back saying that liberal foundations keep people on a short leash, demanding tons of documentation and placing a swarm of miscellaneous conditions on every grant. This is true in academia too — grantwriting has become a profession in itself. Without a good grantwriter (who doesn’t really need to know much about the field), many scientists would never be able to do their work at all.

Kos believes that the Democratic Party is dominated by timid people who do well whether the party wins or loses — he really can rant on that subject (no link, sorry). To call the Democratic bureaucracy risk-averse is a vast understatement. Their practices are the standard bureaucratic ass-covering, and the fact that these practices haven’t really been working very well is no skin off their ass. They still have their jobs, right?

Eric Alterman noticed early in his career that his conservative friends all had cushy jobs, and he didn’t. Conservatives often say that you can’t solve problems by throwing money at them, but they’re more generous to young conservatives than liberals are to young liberals, and they’re also more willing to take chances. Ann Coulter has supported herself in style for more than a decade by cranking out freelance stuff which is shoddy and nasty, but effective. At the beginning of her career someone just said, “Give her a chance”, and she came through for them. Liberals do not work that way.

“But… but… you’re not saying that we should get down to their level and hire the liberal equivalents of Ann Coulter, are you?”

Well, maybe I am. I’m sort of sick of seeing liberal Democrats bragging about the Miss Congeniality booby prize we get for losing all the time. But at least, the Democrats should take their chances, spread some money around, and give a bunch of relatively untested and relatively uncredentialed young guys like Matt, Jesse at Pandagon, et. al., the chance to show what they can do.

(Also, they should avoid ageism and shovel some cash my way too. The party needs to mend its fences with its paranoid fringe elements.)

(This is Part II of the piece on competition I promised here. Part I will appear later, since this piece is more or less timely now.

Media ads becoming less effective

Kos has a post up arguing that political advertising in the big media has become less effective.

This ties in with one of my pet ideas: the Democrats’ media-heavy campaign strategy has been suicidal. To begin with, big media buys serve to fatten up big media, and big media showed in 2000 that it will ultimately support the Republicans. So we’re giving tons of money to some of our worst enemies.

Second, expensive media campaigns force the party to focus too much on fundraising. And the need to raise more and more money forces the Democrats to make more and more deals with the big potential donors, with the result that the less affluent of the traditional Democratic constituencies come to have less and less influence within the party (especially since the party seems to have resigned itself to a low rate of electoral participation).

I’m not an expert on all this, but I know that there have recently been successful candidates (Paul Wellstone was one) who primarily relied on feet on the ground and grass-roots campaigning. Perhaps the national party should think of moving in that direction.

P.S. Since this is just a blog, I think I can shoehorn in another pet idea of mine. My experience has been that the Democrats’ paid staff tends to be heavy with bright and shiny recent college grads (often from Ivy League schools) for whom the job is just an easy, low-paid break between college and their real career. For local outreach work in non-middle-class areas, at least, wouldn’t it be better to hire people from the community for whom the job might actually be a good job? Didn’t the Democrats use to work this way?